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Calling Model 54 / 70 experts - what is this?
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January 27, 2023 - 1:38 am
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Hi all,

While surfing the net looking at the current offerings – which are mostly very sad – I ran across this at Guns International at what I thought was a fairly reputable establishment.  What I think I’m seeing is a rifle with a M-70 receiver and a M-54 barrel.  I’ve read in several places Winchester made about 50,000 M-54s in grand total, so how can this sn be a M-54?  And the trigger guard / floor plate isn’t one piece… any insight would be appreciated for this quite pricey example.

WINCHESTER MODEL 54 PRE WAR CARBINE 30 WCF for sale (gunsinternational.com)

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January 27, 2023 - 3:03 am
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Of course it’s a pre-war 70, with a 54 brl, as the factory sometimes used for non-standard calibers.  (How many thousands of guns have passed through Barrett’s hands, & he doesn’t know this?) Bridge has a non-factory hole added for scope mounting.

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January 27, 2023 - 3:16 am
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Hi all,

While surfing the net looking at the current offerings – which are mostly very sad – I ran across this at Guns International at what I thought was a fairly reputable establishment. Scott M54SG said

  

Scott, I’d be leery about the use of “reputable” in connection with any professional gun dealer.  At best it means that a customer will have his money refunded if he discovers he’s been deceived.

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January 27, 2023 - 3:23 am
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This gun is in fact a model 70 with a 54 barrel. It is pictured on page 106 of the Dean Whitaker model 70 book. The picture mentions that the rifle is very controversial and was felt to be refitted with the 54 barrel….possibly at the factory. If you look closely, the proofmarks do not line at all. Also, I bet if you looked closely at both proofmarks, they were most likely done with a different proofstamp. What surprises me is that a dealer who is supposedly knowledgeable in 70’s would try to pass this off as a 54. I’m sure Lou will have some comments on it as well.

Steve

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January 27, 2023 - 3:54 am
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For those that are not aware, Steve Barnett passed in 2022, and it is his son that it now running the business.  FWIW, the apple did not fall very far from the tree.

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January 27, 2023 - 9:57 am
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Thank you all for your feedback.  I realize with Winchester almost anything is possible but this seemed, well, very confusing.  Funny, I was just contemplating purchasing the Dean Whitaker book (I do have RR’s, and I’m trying hard to obtain a copy of the late Dave Bichrest book of Model 54).  How very odd this specific rifle is in Dean’s book!  Well, I think this answers that question.

I wasn’t trying to drag anyone through the mud per se, I just didn’t understand what I was looking at and reading vs. what (admittedly little) I know.  It seems like a pretty cool rifle I would love to have, shoot and enjoy!  But it seems to me there should be some explanation to go with that lofty asking price.  Perhaps being in Dean’s book justifies that price.  I love 54s, I have 2 and I really enjoy them and finding another “honest” one is always on the short list.  They’re getting harder and harder to find as are most honest Winchesters…

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January 27, 2023 - 3:08 pm
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Scott M54SG said   But it seems to me there should be some explanation to go with that lofty asking price.  Perhaps being in Dean’s book justifies that price.

Depends on exactly how it was described.  To include a gun of dubious origin (in other words, possibly a fake) seems to me ill-advised unless good close-ups of proof marks were provided & something said about how the bolt was altered to handle a rimmed case.  If the brl is a factory installation, of course it’s a very rare gun, but if not, including it in this book may be interpreted by some as “authentication.”

I just wonder why anyone would want a 70 in this caliber.  (Want it enough to have a special order 70 made up.)

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January 27, 2023 - 3:57 pm
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Hi Scott-

The only thing I’d add is that within the past couple months Mr. Barnett’s shop has listed/sold three other “rare” M70s with ties to the late-1970s; 1) S/N 938, a 7.65 M/M carbine pictured in Rule’s book as from a “Nevada Collection” (photo 8-51); 2) S/N 2216, a 9 M/M ramped target rifle formerly in the Rule Collection (photo 8-56); and, S/N 42779, a ramped straight taper barrel 7.65 M/M standard rifle.  I’ve not seen the latter pictured in a book.  Each of these was priced north of $16K.  And NO… I didn’t purchase any of them… Wink

I suspect that these rifles, including S/N 53259, were probably part of one individual’s collection, and are “legit” in the sense that they were in existence at least 45 years ago.  Of course, I am using the word “legit” rather loosely in that their inclusion in Whitaker/Rule does not prove factory originality, only that they were not cobbled together recently, like so many of the “super rare” M70s that have appeared over the past several years (that can be proven fake).

The subject gun, as seewin says, is a late type I-4 M70 retrofit with a genuine M54 Nickel Steel barrel made before 1932.  Doing this also necessitated changes within the action/bolt to accommodate the flat breech 30 WCF barrel/rimmed cartridge.  The question is WHO did the fitting???  I will say (from the survey) that Winchester was assembling some strange M70s (i.e. unpopular chamberings that are now considered “rare”) in the late 1945 to early 1946 time frame (around S/Ns 53000-56000).  I’ve SPECULATED privately that with the end of wartime M1 Garand/Carbine production, it took time to retool the factory to make parts for commercial guns, and that they were keeping the assemblers “busy” by using up whatever pre-war parts were lying around so they wouldn’t be idle waiting for the parts needed to produce the more popular sellers.  Of course that’s TOTAL SPECULATION… Laugh

I would be VERY surprised that Winchester would have let a M70 out the door with a M54 marked barrel on it… They probably wouldn’t have used a Nickel Steel barrel in the first place, and even if they did would have probably re-marked it “70”.  In other words, I share Dean Whitaker’s skepticism about the factory originality of this specimen (except maybe as somebody’s lunch pail gun)… It would be interesting to see how well that rifle feeds/fires/extracts 30 WCF cartridges though… 

Best,

Lou

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January 27, 2023 - 4:07 pm
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Perhaps the larger question is what would be the maximum range this .30 WCF could kill a deer with?  I’m not totally joking here as while this rifle does attract my interest, I would only be interested in it to hunt deer with.  And assuming it feeds correctly, it would be a fine choice.  But, I would have to be able to get it for a deer rifle price.

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January 27, 2023 - 4:43 pm
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steve004 said
Perhaps the larger question is what would be the maximum range this .30 WCF could kill a deer with?

  

What could it do that a garden-variety ’94 wouldn’t do as well?  The one advantage it would have over the ’94 is ease of scope mounting, though even that required drilling the hole in the bridge. 

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January 27, 2023 - 4:46 pm
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If I was looking for a bolt action .30-30 deer rifle would buy Model 54 (equipped with original barrel sights or a receiver sight) or a Remington M788 that is factory D&t for scope mounting.

I’d pass on this gun.

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January 27, 2023 - 4:57 pm
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clarence said

steve004 said

Perhaps the larger question is what would be the maximum range this .30 WCF could kill a deer with?

  

What could it do that a garden-variety ’94 wouldn’t do as well?  The one advantage it would have over the ’94 is ease of scope mounting, though even that required drilling the hole in the bridge. 

  

There is a nostalgic/cool factor for me.  Particularly as opposed to the Remington M788, which I understand is a highly accurate rifle.  

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January 27, 2023 - 6:13 pm
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steve004 said
Perhaps the larger question is what would be the maximum range this .30 WCF could kill a deer with?  I’m not totally joking here as while this rifle does attract my interest, I would only be interested in it to hunt deer with.  And assuming it feeds correctly, it would be a fine choice.  But, I would have to be able to get it for a deer rifle price.

  

We kind of got into this on another post about the 30 WCF.  If one could hit the kill zone accurately it may make a range longer than 300 yds possible.  I’m not sure what energy is needed to pierce the hide and hit the lungs or heart.

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January 27, 2023 - 6:39 pm
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Scott M54SG said
Thank you all for your feedback.  I realize with Winchester almost anything is possible but this seemed, well, very confusing.  Funny, I was just contemplating purchasing the Dean Whitaker book (I do have RR’s, and I’m trying hard to obtain a copy of the late Dave Bichrest book of Model 54).  How very odd this specific rifle is in Dean’s book!  Well, I think this answers that question.

I wasn’t trying to drag anyone through the mud per se, I just didn’t understand what I was looking at and reading vs. what (admittedly little) I know.  It seems like a pretty cool rifle I would love to have, shoot and enjoy!  But it seems to me there should be some explanation to go with that lofty asking price.  Perhaps being in Dean’s book justifies that price.  I love 54s, I have 2 and I really enjoy them and finding another “honest” one is always on the short list.  They’re getting harder and harder to find as are most honest Winchesters…

  

Hey Scott,

I just purchased David Bichrests Model 54 book on Ebay. There are four copies left.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/313279527708

Al

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January 27, 2023 - 7:24 pm
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tionesta1 said

Hey Scott,

I just purchased David Bichrests Model 54 book on Ebay. There are four copies left.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/313279527708

Al

  

Only 3 left now.  And no rip-off shipping charge, as is customary on ebay!

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January 27, 2023 - 9:49 pm
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Thank you for the info AL and Clarence.  I did order a copy on ebay on the 25th, and today (1/27) the order status changed to shipped with an ETA of Feb 2.  I found the story of how the book came together in a back copy of the quarterly WACA magazine, and just happened to find the ad on ebay while searching around.  I think I saw Amazon has the book listed for $225.  I did send a note to Bert H. about the contact info in that older quarterly being no longer valid as well as telling him about the ebay sales opportunity.

FWIW, I included a “note to seller” on ebay inquiring about any copies that may have been set aside for WACA members but I haven’t received a response to that.  Perhaps there will be one in the book when it arrives.  Thank you again.

Scott

BTW, I would love to get this model 54/70 in 30 W.C.F. just for the cool factor, but not at $6,000.  $750?  Absolutely!!

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January 27, 2023 - 11:52 pm
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clarence said

tionesta1 said

Hey Scott,

I just purchased David Bichrests Model 54 book on Ebay. There are four copies left.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/313279527708

Al

  

Only 3 left now.  And no rip-off shipping charge, as is customary on ebay!

  

Thanks for the heads up, I’ve been planning to get one at first good opportunity.

1 left now

Darrin

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